When you release a Christmas Song that is good, you can make your mark on the music industry for years to come - especially when the Holiday Season comes around in December. The 1987 release, "A Very Special Christmas" would take some of the biggest stars in the music industry, have them record some Christmas songs, and then release a CD where the proceeds would go to a charity. This would become a big success. As a result, in 1992 a second CD was made that would continue the momentum of the first CD. This sequel, "A Very Special Christmas 2" would do a lot of the same as the original - take a combination of Classic Christmas Songs, some new spins on some old Classics, some live songs, and some original Christmas songs. The result is a very good collection that should find its way to your CD player come December.
"A Very Special Christmas 2" doesn't quite have as strong a lineup of artists that the first CD had, but it is not short on quality. Even though I am not a fan of all of the artists, there are some that surprise me with their contributions. This collection delivers 19 songs and most of them are pretty good. While the original "A Very Special Christmas" had only two original songs, this CD delivers 4 original songs as well as 5 of what I would classify as "Modern Remakes". The best way to look at this collection is to review each of the songs. Another strength is that this collection brings a solid set of studio musicians who also help contribute.
"Christmas All Over Again" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: This is one of the original songs. I actually am disappointed with this song as I don't think its that great a song, nor do I think it brings out the best in Petty. However, this is an original song. Jeff Lynne (Petty's fellow Wilbury alumni_ lends Bass, Timpani, and Vocals as well.
"Jingle Bell Rock" by Randy Travis: This is one of the "Modern Remakes". I think this is better than the Hall and Oates version. The best part is how Randy does an "encore" at the end of the song. The Country-Western Twist is great too.
"The Christmas Song" by Luther Vandross: I always thought this was a dull song, but Vandross delivers a terrific smooth jazz version. Gerald Albright plays Sax on this track.
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper: This is a terrific version of the classic. Frank is classic Frank and Cyndi Lauper is sensational in this Orchestra twist to an old favorite.
"The Birth of Christ" by Boyz II Men: This is the 2nd original song. Boyz II Men dedicated this song to their late manager. I'm not a big Boyz II Men fan, but this does have some originality as far as Christmas songs go.
"Please Come Home For Christmas" by Jon Bon Jovi: This time Jon contributes a song as a solo artist. This was written by Charles Brown. I'd categorize this as a "Modern Remake". Jon does a great job on the vocals of this song.
"What Christmas Means To Me" by Paul Young: One of the best songs of the collection. This is another "Modern Remake" of a Motown song (Stevie Wonder did this). Don Was is the producer and gives the song a "feel good tempo" and will have you toe-tapping and hand clapping.
"O Christmas Tree" by Aretha Franklin: Not my favorite Christmas song, but Aretha seems to be the perfect diva to deliver this classic tune. Toto's Steve Porcaro plays Synthesizers.
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love: Darlene Love was a studio musician on several tunes on the first album. Now she headlines with Ronnie Spector on another Classic "Modern Remake". Jon Bon Jovi plays acoustic guitar.
"White Christmas" by Michael Bolton: It's no Bing Crosby version, but it's not bad.
"Christmas Is" by Run D.M.C: Run D.M.C were the stars of the first album with "Christmas in Hollis". While this song isn't as strong, it is still is an enjoyable original tune.
"Christmas Time Again" by Extreme: This is an original song and the best song on the collection. Gary Cherone's vocals are perfect and there is a terrific mix or organ and harmonies on this. I'm shocked this hasn't become a modern day classic.
"Merry Christmas Baby" by Bonnie Raitt and Charles Brown: Terrific blues duet. Charles Brown steals the show with his unique vocals on this tune.
"O Holy Night" by Tevin Campbell: Tevin Campbell was a rising vocalist around this time. He delivers an incredible vocal performance to this classic tune.
"Sleigh Ride" by Debbie Gibson: I'm far from being a Gibson fan, but Debbie hits a home run with this performance. Darlene Love is on hand again for some great background vocals.
"What Child Is This" by Vanessa Williams: Another riveting vocal performance of a Christmas Classic.
"Blue Christmas" by Ann and Nancy Wilson: This isn't one of my favorite songs, but it does seem well suited for the Wilson Sisters to do vocals.
"Silent Night" by Wilson Phillips: Wilson Phillips does a terrific job on harmonies that put a nice modern spin on a traditional song.
"I Believe in You": This is a "Modern Remake" of a 1979 Bob Dylan song. I don't think this was intended as a Christmas song, but it does fit in with the season. Sinead O'Connor surprises me this one - she does a good job. Charlton Pettus of Tears For Fears plays acoustic guitar.
The liner notes do give all of the musical and production credits to all of the songs. There are not any lyrics included. This is a solid collection and like the original -- it's worth owning. Like the first album, once December 26th comes along, you put them back on the shelf until next year.